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A tale of two countries – Chinese footballers' British struggles

Updated: 2015-10-22 09:15

Fan Zhiyi – General Fan the talisman

Crystal Palace (1998-2001)

A tale of two countries – Chinese footballers' British struggles

File photo of Fan Zhiyi at Crystal Palace. [Photo/CFP]

Only two former Premier League players could be referred to as "General Fan" in Chinese.

One is Dutch striker Robin van Persie, whose fiery performances for Arsenal and Manchester United like a general rules the world earned him the nickname that combined Chinese translation of “van”, and the other is retired Chinese international Fan Zhiyi.

Then manager Terry Venables brought Fan to Crystal Palace in 1998 when the now Premier League club was still reeling in the second-tier division.

Equally impressive in midfield and center-half, the Chinese was soon named captain and won the club's player of the year award in 2001.

After three successful seasons with the London-based club, Fan moved to Scottish Premier League side Dundee in 2001. A year later he joined Cardiff City, the last stop on his Britain journey.

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